Lumbar scoliosis is a disorder of the spine in which the lower back, or lumbar area of the spine, is curved to the left or right. This can occur at birth in congenital scoliosis, or in adulthood as a result of neuromuscular disease or another primary disease, but lumbar scoliosis is most commonly idiopathic, or occurring without a known cause. Idiopathic lumbar scoliosis is frequently diagnosed in early to middle childhood and may be known as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
The hallmark symptom of scoliosis is a C (or S when paired with upper back scoliosis) curve shape of the spine instead of a straight line from neck to hip. The curve may be noticed during a chest X-ray for lung infection or injury, or it may be observed during a bend test. For this test, a person touches the ground or toes and the spinal shape can be identified by a doctor to determine which way the curve is shaped. Mild curves of less than 20 degrees of a specialized angle measurement are usually treated only with periodic observation; bracing and surgery are reserved for curves of 25 to 50 degrees.
Muscle and Back Pain
Mild scoliosis is primarily painless during childhood and teen years. However, scoliosis that develops in adulthood, or adolescent scoliosis that is untreated by bracing or surgery, may cause chronic pain symptoms. Bone pain may occur from secondary arthritis. Lower-back muscle pain is common, because the muscles that are attached to the curved spine are pulled or pushed out of their normal positions and are continually strained.
Uneven Body Alignment
Body sides that appear uneven may be the first sign or symptom of scoliosis in a pain-free child or teen. With lumbar scoliosis, the legs may appear to be different lengths, or one hip may appear higher than the other. This symptom is most noticeable in clothing placement; clothes will seem longer or shorter or will sag and stretch to accommodate the uneven body alignment.